It's been around 5 weeks since I introduced Landscape to the world. The response from the ecosystem has been absolutely awesome, and things seem to be moving so fast that I'm in a constant state of playing "catch up"!
We've had 30+ VCs and Accelerators apply to join our Verified Partner scheme, have had hundreds of reviews in from brilliant founders across Europe, and have pulled together an absolute dream team advisory group.
This post is the first in a series where I'll semi-regularly document how things are going with Landscape behind the scenes. Today, I want to share a peek behind the curtain of how Landscape came to be and my hopes for what Landscape can become.
At the back end of last year, my startup Coursematch was raising our latest (seed) round of funding.
My co-founder Chris – taking the lead on raising – was spending a large amount of his time travelling up and down the country (we are both based outside of London) meeting prospective investors.
At some point during the raise process, a new (to us) VC reached out to us to say they liked the look of what we were doing and would be interested in meeting. Any founder knows that a cold inbound from a VC whilst you're fundraising is somewhat of a rarity (unless you're the hottest thing right now). So, without much hesitation, we arranged to meet the VC and booked our travel down to London (💸).
Unfortunately, on the day of the meeting, the VC cancelled with ~10 minutes' warning. We had already made the trip down and spent a hefty sum of our precious runway on trains.
At the time I remember thinking;
"Ah well, I guess this is just the way of the world 🤷♂️"
The VC would've filled the majority of our round if they decided to invest, so we were still very keen to meet and subsequently put another date in the diary...
Anyway, you can see where this is going - the second meeting came around, we travelled down and, once again, the meeting was cancelled on the day with very little notice 🤦♂️
By this point, the team had wasted a significant amount of both money and time (a founder's two most precious commodities), and it's fair to say I was pretty frustrated.
It was around this time I remember thinking;
"I wish there was some mechanism I could use to warn future founders to just take a Zoom meeting with this VC first 🤔"
While I recognise that there are far worse things in the world than a couple of cancelled meetings, it got me thinking about the number of other founders that must be affected by this type (and other types) of unprofessional behaviour.
I started exploring the idea of 'Glassdoor for VC'; a rating app where founders could anonymously review the investors they interacted with throughout their fundraising journey. After a bit of research, I decided to try and validate the idea without writing a line of code.
My first port of call was to pull together some Twitter searches. Here's some of what I found:
There is plenty more, but, you get the picture.
I decided to take a leap of faith, considering the idea validated (🥳), and bumped it up to the top of my "moonlight projects" list to work on when I had some free time.
That free time ended up coming around at the start of June, and so I pulled together a quick landing page, review form, and Twitter account, started talking to people about Landscape, and here we are a few weeks later...
I'll write a post in a week or so on "How I'm building Landscape", where I'll detail how I managed to pull everything together and get Landscape to where it is now on a budget of ~£150
My hope for Landscape is that it becomes a platform that can add value to both sides of the investment market – founders and investors. I believe that a rising tide lifts all boats, and raising transparency across the funding ecosystem will play a key part in that.
Landscape is as much about celebrating brilliance as it is about removing bad behaviour. We know for every 1 bad actor, there are 5 brilliant investors that will go out of their way to help founders whenever they can, and we want to give these people a platform to shine.
I hope that founders will be able to use Landscape to assess investment opportunities, carry out due diligence on prospective investors before taking their money, and share their fundraising experiences for the benefit of future founders.
I hope that investors will view Landscape as an friend, not a foe. I'm building Landscape as a place for investors to highlight the brilliant work they do, and take the plunge of opening themselves up to feedback from founders they interact with.
Every investor tells their portfolio founders to "talk to your customer, iterate on your product and keep improving". I believe Landscape allows investors to do exactly this for their own product.
I've no doubt that this journey is not going to be easy, but the intial response from the ecosystem has been so overwhelmingly encouraging that it's given me real hope that the market is ready for something like Landscape to exist.
If we can all work together on Landscape, then I believe we can build something truly valuable for the community.
The Next Steps
As I mentioned at the start of this post, we already have hundreds of reviews from founders across Europe, spanning 70+ different firms and accelerators, and the number of Landscape Reviews being left every day is constantly growing.
In the next month or so, we will release the Landscape private beta. Everybody that's left a review thus far will have access to the beta, along with VC's that have joined our Verified Partner Scheme.
The private beta will be our opportunity to get really valuable feedback from our early adopters, ensuring we're on the right track to building something truly useful for both sides of the investment market.
Keep an eye out for some more content coming out shortly from the Landscape team. We have loads of exciting announcements in the pipeline, and we share regular analysis on our socials. Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn!
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This post is part of the series "Building Landscape". In the next post I will be doing a deep dive on the technical side of how I'm building Landscape, the tools I'm using, and the tools I'm not using 👀🤐